It’s never too early to start thinking about industry collaborations. Whether your company is in early discovery or late clinical stage or you have an upstart CRO/CMO, there is an interested partner out there looking for your asset and/or services to enhance their pipeline. Here are some key best practices to getting started.
While you may not have a massive marketing team, there are many ways for a company to get exposure. One of the most basic components, of course, is to build a company website – which you certainly have – but more importantly to ensure it’s partnering friendly. The partnering page is your call to action, your “selling” page. When someone finds your website, they’re likely interested in connecting with you – so make your messaging precise, informative, and avoid fluff. Also, it’s good practice to implement a “Collaborate with us” page that allows potential partners to submit their opportunities. Here are some good examples of this:
Another point of exposure is professional networks – most prominent being LinkedIn. In today’s business world, sharing company news and successes via LinkedIn is a must. The core audience with whom you want to share are accessible on this platform. And since you will have (if you follow best practices) likeminded and relevant contacts, your post or article won’t be just noise/spam that people will gloss over as in social media.
Another point of exposure is industry events and conferences. You’re likely aware of major industry events like BIO Convention and JPM Healthcare Conference – these are of course great venues to interact, connect and get noticed; however, they can be costly and require lots of coordination and resources. See: How to make attending the BIO Convention worthwhile? So look for smaller more targeted events – focused on particular therapeutic areas, partnering days sponsored by your favorite pharma, knowledge sharing webinars, and innovation hub meetups. You can find many of them in our events calendar.
Once you have established exposure as described above, you can start to build a network of key stakeholders who can influence and drive collaborations. These stakeholders are SMEs, BD professionals, and External Innovation executives.
Start with LinkedIn and search these titles, you will fairly easily find a treasure trove of connections. Ensure that your profile contains identifiable key words that describe the therapy area of your concentration, as well as, modalities and asset classes you have expertise in – finding common interest will ensure better pool of connections. Also include any articles, published research or conference presentations that are in your arsenal.
Another well known networking practice is to attend industry events. While large conferences described above like BIO or JPM can be overwhelming and not as fruitful if you cannot get face-to-face meetings, we’d recommend more targeted events. There are BD specific summits, small conferences focusing on individual therapeutic areas – these can get you in a room with synergetic counterparts and stakeholders. Check out our events calendar for upcoming events that may be of interest for you.
Another networking practice that has become popular, especially since the COVID lockdowns, are virtual conferences. These events also generally focus on an individual topic and bring in relevant attendees. The more effective ones will include breakout “rooms” and “closed-door” sessions that allow you freely interact with each other.
Once you build your network, you’ll be well served to keep them interested. Meet with your connections every chance you get and build that relationship – attend conference presentations, request face-to-face meetings, tag your published research on LinkedIn and engage in any relevant (and non-confidential) knowledge sharing platforms.
As one pharma insider said, when they evaluate potential partnership with a biotech, “it’s rarely a hard no, it’s just not right now..” Maybe your non-conf package needs a bit more work, maybe you’re in early discovery and they would like more results, or their strategy may shift and your early-stage asset is suddenly in demand – you want to be ready to re-engage.
You’re already an expert in the science, now also gain competency in the tactics of collaboration.
If you utilize all the practices described above, you’ll have loads of contacts to maintain, interactions to track, documents to share and follow-up actions to schedule. You have emails and spreadsheets and free-form meeting notes and shared documents and management reports. You need a process and practice in place to manage all of this, otherwise it’s a major headache and administrative burden.
You likely thought about procuring an “all-in-one” system. But your IT budget is limited, and even more importantly, putting in place some expensive and complex “CRM” is actually going to cause more headaches – you need additional resources, recurring training and constant upkeep. And even with all that, such applications have very low adoption and can actually create data silos (https://whatfix.com/blog/alarming-signs-crm-is-underutilized-and-how-to-deal-with-it/). What you need to do is streamline the tools you have now – create templates, build shared repositories and standardized reporting – and take advantage of the applications you utilize daily and come as second-nature. This will actually help you scale when your team grows (or gets acquired) and you need to implement (or migrate) into a CRM.
In conclusion, to be an effective collaborator and attractive organization for your potential partners, we encourage you to put in practice these key components. If you’re not sure about where to start, or would just like consultation to audit and validate your processes – we’re here to help.